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Jobs Bill Funds Safety Network With Spectrum Sale 147

Posted by Soulskill
from the why-own-the-cow dept.
CWmike writes "President Barack Obama's American Jobs Act would allow the FCC to conduct so-called incentive auctions, in which the agency would share the proceeds of a spectrum auction with television stations that voluntarily give up their spectrum. The goal would be to raise $6.5 billion to fund a nationwide voice and data network for police, fire departments and other emergency responders. Lawmakers and other groups have called for a nationwide public safety network since emergency responders had trouble communicating with each other during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorists attacks on the U.S."
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Jobs Bill Funds Safety Network With Spectrum Sale

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  • by russotto (537200) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @07:29PM (#37393392) Journal

    You know, the last time Congress took a bunch of spectrum from TV and allocated some of it to public safety? The D block is still unused, right?

    The only thing going on here is an attempt by the Verizons and Comcasts of the world to eliminate competition. (of course Comcast-owned NBC channels would be first to give up their OTA allocations). Public safety is a transparent excuse.

    • by evought (709897) <{moc.xobop} {ta} {thguove}> on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @08:27PM (#37393820) Homepage Journal

      Public safety is a transparent excuse.

      True. The muti-state "public safety network" here is 6m; Storm-chasers and fire watch is 2m. That's what ARES is for. It's simple, reliable technology and there are good volunteers to run it. Our local Sheriff recently remarked that the feds are trying to shove narrow band digital radios down the counties' throats. The proffered radios are expensive, overwhelmingly benefit one corp, and perform poorly in this terrain (the digital radios tend to be all or nothing; in much of rural MO, you can get a poor but comprehensible analog signal further, at least with current equipment). Switching will either hurt strained county budgets or the strained federal deficit (if subsidized) and will mean other services don't happen.

      • by Culture20 (968837) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @08:46PM (#37393914)

        The proffered radios are expensive, overwhelmingly benefit one corp, and perform poorly in this terrain (the digital radios tend to be all or nothing; in much of rural MO, you can get a poor but comprehensible analog signal further, at least with current equipment).

        But they work in New York City. Do you *want* more people to die from 9/11? That's what Obama is trying to prevent in this Steve Jobs bill. Think of the children's livers!

      • by timeOday (582209)
        Analog-only radios are awfully limited though. Can they even send text-messages to each other? It could certainly be useful for them to be able to send text, photos, or see a map with everybody's location on it, for example. I don't know if they'll be getting, but it should be, the DoD has paid companies lots of money to work all this out over the years.
        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          Analog-only radios are awfully limited though. Can they even send text-messages to each other? It could certainly be useful for them to be able to send text, photos, or see a map with everybody's location on it, for example. I don't know if they'll be getting, but it should be, the DoD has paid companies lots of money to work all this out over the years.

          Yes, you can. Again, hams have done it.

          Text messaging - packet radio. Operates on HF, VHF, UHF.

          Photos - slow-scan TV. HF, VHF, UHF.

          Locations - APRS (really

          • by texas (43689)

            Umm... you are aware that packet radio IS digital, right?

          • by jseale (691367)
            Yeah, but the trick is that you would have to get such equipment down to a size equal that of today's mobile phones. No police force or fire department wants to bother with big, heavy kit just for sake of blasting out text messages.
        • by Agripa (139780)

          In the past couple of years a number of handheld and larger HAM transceivers have gained the ability to do APRS natively. That basically IS text messaging but it is normally machine written and read automatically to transfer position information. Garmin has some GMRS handhelds which do something similar.

          What is needed is an open standard for a combined voice and data modulation and encoding scheme. The current HAM radio digital voice standard, DSTARS, is proprietary and protected by patents and not reall

      • by BlueStrat (756137)

        Public safety is a transparent excuse.

        True. The muti-state "public safety network" here is 6m; Storm-chasers and fire watch is 2m. That's what ARES is for. It's simple, reliable technology and there are good volunteers to run it. Our local Sheriff recently remarked that the feds are trying to shove narrow band digital radios down the counties' throats. The proffered radios are expensive, overwhelmingly benefit one corp, and perform poorly in this terrain (the digital radios tend to be all or nothing; in much of rural MO, you can get a poor but

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        If current trends continue, they also benefit criminals; you can read the radio stream with a hacked children's toy. Give all cops a bunch of digital radios that are always chatting with the base station and it makes them that much easier to track.

      • Yes but "they overwhelmingly benefit one corp". What exactly is the confusion here? Your life, liberty, freedom and government have been bought and paid for by mega-corporations, citizen. Smile and e happy you can serve your corporate overlords.

  • Isn't that one of the reasons for the digital TV conversion? I recall that as one of the reasons to change the spectrum layout last time. How much more do they need anyway? The reason for a lack of communication before was a lack of planning as much as anything else.

    • by Culture20 (968837)
      It was the only reason.
    • Yeah!

      AT&T says it needs to by T-Mobile to get more spectrum - and now we have a better answer - they can get the spectrum and we don't get a monopoly.

    • by bjwest (14070)

      The reason for the switch to digital TV was to get more people on the cable/dish teat. I live less than 50 miles from my states capital, and can only barley pickup the local channels with a huge ass expensive antenna and signal amp. I can only imagine people in more rural areas and farmers way out in the middle of nowhere.

      I'd like to see the figures for the dish providers subscriptions before and after the switch.

  • by superid (46543) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @07:42PM (#37393488) Homepage

    I'm an EMT, there are 5 radios in my ambulance. I don't need more ways to talk to people. I need policies, documentation, good equipment, and most of all consistent interoperability training between multiple departments and jurisdictions. I really don't think the fix is more spectrum.

    • Also an EMT. Low band VHF (ugh) for our primary radio, UHF for the cops, and a VHF radio for interop. Couple of portables for each.

      Recently, a neighboring town went to a trunked system, so now we can't communicate with them unless we do it over a state police channel that they're required to monitor. Not a technological issue, they just won't let us in. And we can still communicate over interop if the sh*t really hits the fan.

      I've never quite understood the "everybody talks to everybody!" mentality that the

    • by nickruiz (1185947)

      I'm an EMT, there are 5 radios in my ambulance. I don't need more ways to talk to people. I need policies, documentation, good equipment, and most of all consistent interoperability training between multiple departments and jurisdictions. I really don't think the fix is more spectrum.

      So, what you're really saying is that spectrum is the cowbell of medical response systems. (Oblig. SNL reference)

  • It's all good. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FooAtWFU (699187) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @07:43PM (#37393490) Homepage

    The jobs bill is a joke. It's not going to be passed. It exists so that Obama can say "Look, I did a jobs bill, and this obstructionist do-nothing Congress wouldn't pass it!" You could say it's the kickoff to the Obama 2012 campaign.

    (I make no comment here on the value of the actual policies contained in the jobs bill, merely on the motives of those proposing it and its chances in Congress.)

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Masters achieve two aims with one move. It is both a kickoff, and also a reasonable jobs package. Whether Congress passes it or not depends on how desperate Americans really are for jobs, and whether the Republicans can risk being seen as obstructionist in a dire job market.

      • Re:It's all good. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by FooAtWFU (699187) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @08:21PM (#37393778) Homepage

        Herein I will criticize the jobs package.

        There are going to be some tax breaks starting Soon (late 2011) for small businesses and workers. At the end of 2012, these tax breaks will expire. Also, the Bush tax cuts will expire (increasing tax on the bracket from 35% to 42% and the tax on long-term capital gains from 15% to 20%). There will also be another 0.9% Medicare tax on income over $200,000, and a 2.9% surcharge on investment income. Also, the government will raid charity for ~$400 billion (lesser tax deductions). Also,

        So a small business owner is supposed to see these 16-month tax breaks and go "Yay! I'm going to create some jobs!"

        Also, job training. Do me a favor. Go look up some former job programs like MDTA, CETA and JTPA and see how well they worked (and the current program, WIA) and tell me with a straight face that this is going to help the economy.

        Also, more stimulus-style spending. Because the last round worked so very very well, and we know that paying it back in the future isn't going to be a problem at all nosiree Bob.

        So the jobs act is a joke, but it would be worse if it were serious.

        • by kisak (524062)

          Not much of a criticizme, just old talking points.

          Without the stimulus-spending that Obama initiated between 1 - 3.5 million more people would be out of job today. (According to independent analysis, CBO). That would be a real drag on the economy.

          Also, of course you will have to do more stimulus to the economy to be able to pay of debt in the future, since it is the tax money from people actually working that will pay this debt. It is a total waste to let people be unemployed, so you invest to get peopl

          • Without the stimulus-spending that Obama initiated between 1 - 3.5 million more people would be out of job today. (According to independent analysis, CBO). That would be a real drag on the economy.

            Do you know how the CBO reached that conclusion? Did they do it by studying actual jobs and businesses? No, the CBO plugged the numbers about the amout of money that was spent under the stimulus bill into a formula that says that for every dollar the government spends the economy improves by 1.8 dollars then calculating how many jobs would result from that much more economic activity.
            That is like me deciding to invest a $1000 in the stock market based on a formula that says that money invested in the stoc

            • by LanMan04 (790429)

              No, the CBO plugged the numbers about the amout of money that was spent under the stimulus bill into a formula that says that for every dollar the government spends the economy improves by 1.8 dollars then calculating how many jobs would result from that much more economic activity.

              [CITATION NEEDED]

    • ... the motives of those proposing it

      Amazing how many people delude themselves into thinking they can read minds. I'm constantly hearing attacks on the president asserting intimate knowledge of his motives. "The president hates America, the president is wants to destroy America, blah, blah, blah."

      I would like to tell these people that they really can't read minds, and everyone would be better served by commenting on actual policies.

      • Most of the criticisms I hear and voice are more aimed at "I think Obama has poor policy decisions". Any issues with that?

    • There's no surprise it's being announced when the Republican Tea Party primary warmup debates are going on. Obama couldn't get the Debt Ceiling deal done without giving away 3/4 of the store, when not doing so would have supposedly caused a Constitutional crisis (it wouldn't have actually caused the US to default, in spite of what Obama and the Tea Partiers said, but would have caused massive cuts in Social Security checks and Federal paychecks.) And he's pretending that he can announce a "Jobs Bill" and

    • by sycodon (149926)

      WTF is this even doing in a "Jobs" bill. Wait. I know. It;s not a Jobs bill. It's the annual payoff Democratic donors Bill. A grab bag of Dem pork.

      Fuck you all.

  • by Solandri (704621) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @07:51PM (#37393558)
    It belongs to the public. A single entity should not get exclusive access to the spectrum in perpetuity. They should have to pay an annual lease on it to continue using it.

    This also prevents companies from buying up spectrum to stifle competition. If they lease large amounts of spectrum which they then don't use, the bid price on the remainder will go up. The government can then use that bid price to raise the lease price for all spectrum in subsequent years, making it too expensive for companies to continue sitting on that spectrum. It's the same concept behind property taxes in real estate - by raising the price to own property in a highly desirable area, you force the owners to do something useful with the property rather than sitting on it as a speculative or anti-competitive move.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      AMEN!

      It was theft to give away the frequencies, instead of TV corporations having to regularly renew their permission from the government, which came with restrictions, to use the frequencies.

      After GWB gave those national treasures away as presents to those corporations, they rented out subcarriers on the extra frequencies they didn't need, but now owned. NOW, some will be "voluntarily giving up" some of the extra frequencies they didn't need, and they will be sold, and the corporations get to keep half th

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Because people are waiting for the TV that uses that spectrum to tell them to what to yell about.

      • by FooAtWFU (699187)

        When you actually use spectrum, you have equipment (wireless radios and stuff) that becomes useless if the spectrum gets taken away. You can't just repurpose arbitrary hardware to operate on new frequencies. You need different chips, different antennas, and probably new deployment studies so you know where there's coverage - not to mention the actual work of going out there and reconfiguring or reinstalling everything. Spectrum is much more useful (and valuable) when you can be sure that it's going to stick

  • Obama is still trying to feather the government nest on the backs of taxpayers. We need to slash spending and taxes to revive the economy. The Bolsheviks have failed.
    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      Obama is still trying to feather the government nest on the backs of taxpayers. We need to slash spending and taxes to revive the economy. The Bolsheviks have failed.

      What the crap are you talking about?
      After 9/11 everyone agreed that we needed to get all our emergency services talking to each other on the same frequency...
      then nothing happened. We've spent over a trillion dollars in Iraq/Afghanistan, but $6.5 billion for domestic emergency response
      is feathering the government nest?

      The only mighty wind is the one coming out your ass.

      • by FooAtWFU (699187)
        He's talking about the crap that Obama called a "jobs bill" that this spectrum plan is attached to - the one paying for 16 months' worth of temporary payroll tax incentives (woo, comma, hoo) with permanent tax increases (conveniently postponed until 2013, after the general election).

        He also refers to Obama's previous stimulus efforts, ObamaCare, and the campaign premise of "spread the wealth around", calling these policies "Bolshevik" - a simple application of rhetoric, comparing these ideas with others wh

  • ... without it for the last 10 years, why piss the money down the rat hole now when we can least afford it? Government make-work jobs don't recover an economy. Real, organic economic growth recovers an economy - that is - production that is based on the laws of the free market and demand. You can build something of little utility that nobody really wants or needs (especially since any police department, fire station, or rescue squad in the nation is a phone call away and any smart phone user can locate one

  • But we should be doing many of the things the comission said. But this is a good one especially. If we're going to have emergency services, why would we keep them on a line thats subject to being overwhelmed in the event of an emergency of catastrophic proportions? to superid: You wont be listening to any more radios, unless something along the lines of a massive terrorist attack happens. Then, with those radios being overwhelmed, you wont be left to stramble and make choices with anything but a local view
  • by rossdee (243626) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @08:29PM (#37393832)

    I never owned a Spectrum, it had a terrible keyboard. Back in those days I had a Commodore 64

  • by SexyKellyOsbourne (606860) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @08:31PM (#37393838) Journal

    Just dial 9.1.1.1!

    Or in the IPv6 world, 0009:0001:0001:0001:0001:0001:0001:0001.

  • and seing the keywords Jobs, Bill, and networks, for a minute there I thought of a different content of the article.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The jokes practically write themselves!
    • I read those two words and immediately thought, "Gates is visiting Steve? And what do they have to do with a spectrum sale?"

  • by Anonymous Coward

    An easier way to raise money would be to deregulate broadcasters and allow them to offer broadband services, similar to what is being done in Europe using a DVB-T2 format. There is already a provision that would provide a 5% ancillary revenue fee back to the government from broadcasters, teh gift that would keep on giving. The problem seems to be that our government wants concentration of certain industries with a few...sounds a bit Fascist, doesn't it?

  • by Okian Warrior (537106) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @09:24PM (#37394074) Homepage Journal

    Obama and everyone else in the government have it wrong.

    Giving money to existing businesses will not create jobs. Existing businesses already have the employees they need to create their product, and if you give them money in a bad economy they will hoard it waiting for the economy to get better. (This is not 100% true in all cases, but as a general rule it works very well.)

    You get jobs from new businesses. New businesses grow to accommodate production - once a business can meet demand for it's product or service, growth essentially stops.

    New businesses come from innovation on top of infrastructure.

    Most innovation is an incremental improvement in an existing product. Your company makes perfusion pumps. If you can make the same pump but 5% smaller, or 5% lighter, or 5% cheaper, or lasts 50% longer - that's generally good enough to start a business.

    Innovation:

    Patents are largely impossible for the small business right now. They are expensive and don't afford any sort of protection. Patent descriptions are so broadly written and subject to so much interpretation that it is likely that any innovation you make is covered by numerous patents. There are trolls out there ready to take everything away once you've done all the hard work.

    Any similarities between your product and an existing product will net you a copyright violation.

    Infrastructure:

    The criminal laws are so broadly written and subject to so much interpretation that enforcement has become largely discretionary. Local prosecutors are not held responsible for bringing merit-less cases to court, so be sure not to piss anyone off in the government.

    The regulatory laws are broadly written and subject to interpretation, and again enforcement has become largely discretionary (viz: Gibson and Martin [slashdot.org])

    The cell phone network only covers metropolitan areas, and is so unstable that Apple can come out with a popular product (IPhone 1.0) and overload the system, making it impossible to make calls. In Manhattan (!)

    High speed internet is only available in metropolitan areas, and is so overloaded that the carriers are implementing rationing (aka data caps).

    Our electric system is old and outdated - by some estimates 20% of the generated power is wasted because we can't route it efficiently.

    Our postal system is expensive and somewhat unreliable, yet we can't let more efficient companies (UPS and FedEx) deliver mail.

    Our air travel rules are so invasive and abhorrent that people refuse to use it. Good luck getting your sales people to other cities, or sending an engineer to work out problems with a vendor.

    Our tax structure is so complicated that it requires expert advice and constant vigilance for compliance. With Amazon giving in [slashdot.org] to external states demands to collect sales tax, expect this to get a lot worse before it gets better. Every cash-strapped state, county, and local town will be all over the net looking for their cut.

    About the only piece of infrastructure in the US that seems to be OK is the interstate highway system.

    Any single one of these can be considered minor, or could be ignored or dealt with by accommodation. Allocate some funds to hire a CPA, or a lawyer, or patent searcher, or whatever.

    Taken in concert, the whole package puts a severe chilling effect on business growth in the US. That's why we don't have jobs any more, that's why the economy is taking so long to turn around.

    We just don't have it any more.

    • Free Trade is not free.

      The empire is going down; this large train is headed for bigger crashes and despite some of us seeing it coming it can't stop in time even when the clueless people take notice.

      It really does not matter what bill you come up with-- the broken system will output garbage; adapting to they system isn't going to help but that is what is being tried.

      It is rather simple, the terrorist religious fanatics have won this decade; on both sides over here and in the middle east. They continue to wi

    • Exactly. We have fundamental systemic issues that a bit of "stimulus" spending here & there is not going to fix. Plus, most of the things you mentioned are there due to entrenched assets, with no representation of the opposing side. For instance, who lobbies on behalf of the public domain?

      And then there's all the big stuff like health care, social security, and the real estate market black-holing a ton of value.

    • by LanMan04 (790429)

      Our postal system is expensive and somewhat unreliable, yet we can't let more efficient companies (UPS and FedEx) deliver mail.

      Want to send a letter to Alaska? That'll be $40 please. Oh wait, it wasn't profitable so we stopped servicing Alaska. SORRY!

  • Unacceptable (Score:4, Informative)

    by Space (13455) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @09:28PM (#37394102)

    I volunteer with a fire department in rural east Texas. None of the area volunteer fire departments want the new networks the cities keep pushing for. There is an 800MHz trunked network used by a few local law enforcement officers. There are only five carrier frequencies on that system and more than five departments using the network. If my department was on that same network and we were in a burning building and needed to communicate with the pump operator we are not guaranteed to be able to transmit. A fire fighter could burn up because the local PD was busy checking a license plate. Unacceptable.

    • by DarthBart (640519)

      If you're in the piney parts of southeast Texas (Beaumont, Houston, Jasper, Vidor), you'll discover something interesting about 800Mhz. A pine needle is almost the same length as an 800Mhz radio wave and thus they make great RF absorbers. Get into a good dense grove of pine trees and you'll not be able to hear shit.

      The folks where I used to live in the Texas hill country got a big hardon once for an 800Mhz trunked system until they discovered they'd have to put in 20ish separate repeater sites to cover th

      • by theguru (70699)

        You've got pine trees with nearly 15 inch needles there? Holy cow!
        Maybe they're closer to 1/4 wavelength, but I'm betting the density of moist organic matter has more to do with it than the length of the needles.

  • PDF [house.gov]

    Government Oversight Committee [house.gov]

    Obama's Jobs Destruction Act [slashdot.org]

    In his speech Obama didn't say "stimulus" once. He wants to stay away from that word, last stimulus was a failure and unpopular.

    Of-course deficits that finance the stimulus destroy more jobs than the tax cuts create.

    None of it is paid for, cuts from future increases is not paying for anything, but there is net increase in deficit (and it's underestimated) 450 Billion USD year 2011.

    Debt ceiling now will have to be raised again obviously next year,

    • by roman_mir (125474)

      Peter Schiff's Testimony to the Committee [youtube.com] starts at minute 31.

      Then there is question/answer session.

    • Bill will make it illegal to discriminate against long term unemployed. So what will happen is that people who are long term unemployed will NOT be interviewed.

      Actually, the response to that provision will be to depress hiring even further, because not interviewing the long term unemployed will not be enough to avoid lawsuits. If that provision were passed, any company that hired someone other than someone who had been long term unemployed (as defined by the bill) would be asking for a lawsuit (if there were any applicants who were long term unemployed, whether interviewed or not).
      As a result, the only jobs that companies would hire for under this law would be po

      • by roman_mir (125474)

        well, somebody would have to bring the lawsuits up, but yes, absolutely, it makes sense today in USA to hire absolutely NOBODY and to try and get rid of as many employees as possible as is.

        Thank the Internet for ability to connect 2 interests together - a side that needs a job done, and a side that wants to earn some money doing that job. I just did exactly that over 99designs.com - I hired somebody to do a design. Where is this person from, that did the design for me? Who knows? I don't know, nor do I car

    • "last stimulus was a failure" False - it stimulated, per CBO and other credible analysis.

      "deficits that finance the stimulus destroy more jobs than the tax cuts create." False - not in a liquidity trap, there is no crowding out, and with a trade deficit private savings require government deficits.

      "The 1 year cut in SS payroll tax will make SS that much more broke" False - SS contributions were replaced by Federal gov't contributions in the current payroll tax cut.

      "it's broke now" False - once the

      • by roman_mir (125474)

        "last stimulus was a failure" False - it stimulated, per CBO and other credible analysis.

        - Since when is CBO credible? Is it since they release their rosy projections of future spending based on unrealistic growth projections?

        GPD is fake.
        CPI is fake.
        Unemployment numbers are fake.

        Dollar per dollar stimulus destroys more jobs than it creates specifically because the spending on government jobs removes investment opportunity in the real economy for jobs that actually could decrease the trade deficit and debt. It's a multiplier effect in reverse, every dollar spent by government is dollar either

  • Did anyone else read "Jobs Bill" and just assume that Steve Jobs and Bill Gate's had a love-child?

  • As a ham and a person who has to buy new toys for our local govt. Take the radios that are being taken out of service. Dedicate five VHF and five UHF channels within the common bands as emergency channels. Use FM only. for bonus points have one pair of channels used for a repeater with a backup power supply. Other than reprogramming existing equipment there would be little cost. The FCC would have to come up with the ten channels, but surely this is faster than moving entire blocks around. Of course,

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